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Building ‘world-class’ institutions: NITI Aayog suggests changes to HRD plan

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The Indian Express | Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | September 26, 2016 |

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant is learnt to have recently written to the PMO recommending two changes to the draft UGC regulations.

After changes suggested by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the NITI Aayog too has stepped in with its suggestions to the HRD Ministry’s ambitious plan to set up 20 world-class institutions (WCI).  NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant is learnt to have recently written to the PMO recommending two changes to the draft UGC regulations.  According to Kant, the guidelines and rules should explicitly state that the world-class institutions shall not be regulated by professional councils such as the AICTE, the Medical Council of India, the Dental Council of India and the Architecture Council of India. He has also suggested that the ten government institutions qualifying for world-class status should have absolute freedom to fix pay and promotion norms for their faculty, so that they can compete with their private counterparts. At a meeting held between NITI Aayog, PMO and HRD officials, Higher Education Secretary V S Oberoi expressed reservations about the proposed changes. Sources said the HRD Ministry feels that exempting the WCIs from regulation by professional councils would require several amendments to the respective Acts of 15 different councils.

It was pointed out that the suggestion to provide freedom to a select few government institutions to fix faculty pay and promotion norms will seem discriminatory and may even lead to resentment at other centrally-funded institutes. The meeting remained inconclusive.  The proposed regulations — tentatively named UGC (Declaration of Educational Institutions as World Class Institutions) Guidelines — aim at creating an enabling architecture for ten public and ten private institutions to emerge as world-class institutions. This project is among the budget announcements made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and is being closely monitored by the PMO.  The regulations were, till recently, caught in a tussle between the HRD Ministry and PMO over the degree of autonomy to be granted to the 20 world-class institutions, with the latter batting for more freedom from UGC. After Smriti Irani’s exit from the HRD Ministry in July, the Ministry, under Prakash Javadekar, referred the regulations for a legal opinion. The regulations hit a legal wall after Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar questioned the unlimited powers of the empowered committee, which will select institutions that deserve the world-class status. –  Courtesy


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